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Just now, fulgur said:

Wait, so is Val dead?

No. Nobody's dead - the can was empty when it blew up.

  • And Val was piloting the can remotely.

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I would like to start by paying my respects for the Neptune II's lost data. Hopefully, Enmal and I collected enough to replace most of it. I'm just glad that Johnfrid's okay.

  • There's no way we could get all of the lost data back, since we don't have goo or atmospheric GCMS.


After hearing about the Neptune II, we descended on Laythe to refuel, heading for the same island that the Elegail rover was parked at. After a few months of the usual ore harvesting and conversion, it was time for us to go back home.



  • Enmal (left) and I (right) standing next to the Neptune III after all the tanks were filled up.
    • Taken Y45D378 - 2H39M


Like the last time, getting up to the target altitude was easier than it was on Kerbin. 



  • The specs of the plane's orbit around Laythe as well as how much delta-V it has left.


Currently, the plan is to refuel at one of Jool's moons and get into Jool orbit before heading to Kerbin. However, a couple of questions remain:

  1. Which Jool moon should we use that can both maximize Jool orbit delta-V and minimize the risk of exploding during refueling?
  2. How can we prevent the Neptune III from ending up like the Neptune II during Kerbin re-entry?

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Since Pol required the least amount of delta-V to get on and off, Lodock and I decided to find a nice landing spot there to refuel. At the same time, five more kerbalnauts - a pilot, an engineer, and three tourists - were flying to Pol in their new "flying outpost."* Since their travel plan also involved getting back home in a seven-man pod, and since Mission Control didn't want to take any chances with us (since the Neptune II blew up), we were ordered to EVA to the Jool tourists as soon as the flying base rendezvoused with us.



  • The Pol-ar Express Flying Base within 30 meters of the Neptune III. We were finally glad to see some other happy faces after six years of being stuck with each other in that plane.
    • Lodock and I were also promoted to Level-Five kerbalnauts as soon as we were on board.



  • The Pol-ar Express then rendezvoused with a Mk. Vb Interplanetary Travel Pod that was on standby in Pol orbit for decades. 
  • It was the perfect opportunity to return home in a safer capsule.
    • { (Lodock and I = 2) + (3 tourists) + (2 base crewmembers) = 7 kerbalnauts} = {7-man capacity for the pod}


After the pod left Jool orbit, we realized that two of the three tourists still had stuff to do in Jool orbit. One of them paid for a fly-by of Bop, while the other one wanted to land on Vall. This tourist run may take a while, but at least we'll be safe in a capsule with an inflatable heat shield when we get back. Hopefully, we don't need to send any additional items from Kerbin (e.g. lander, ore transport) to fulfill the mission requirements, which would surely put a damper on our plans to get home.

  • Actually, now that I mention it, there is some debate back home on whether or not we should put self-mining landers and/or ore transports on all of Jool's moons (except for Tylo and Laythe). 


In the meantime, Lodock has gained remote control of the Neptune III. Currently, the plan involves,

  1. Leaving Pol so that the craft will have a 281,000-km Jool apoapsis.
    1. DONE
  2. Circularizing the craft's orbit at apoapsis.
  3. Making the exit burn for Kerbin when the time is right.
    1. Although the Launch Window Planner says that the plane may have more than enough delta-V for the job, I'd rather not risk the plane blowing up with us in it.
      1. Especially not after what happened to the Neptune II.



  • Shot of the Neptune III in high Jool orbit.
  • If you look closely at the left side of the TCS, you can see Laythe as the closest moon in this shot.


Lodock and I will be off this thread for a while, as we're now helping with the tourist run before leaving Jool. We'll get back if something interesting happens or when we make our exit burn - whichever comes first.

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Perhaps I should start from the beginning. About 20 years ago - while Val and I were on our way back home from being stranded on Eeloo - the Super Trainer-class ship known as the S.S. Remembrance had taken off from the KSC for its very long tourist run to the Mun, Minmus, Ike, Dres, and some of Jool's moons.

  • They had to stop at Ike after flying from Jool to refuel and enter Kerbin's SOI at a slower velocity to reduce the risk of a catastrophic landing.


Recently, they have returned to Kerbin's SOI and transferred several tourists to a couple of ships in standby to fulfill further parts of their contracts before landing in the grasslands. As a result, the KSP got a lot of money and science points as well as a reputation boost in the public eye. We then accepted more tourist contracts when they came in; one of them involved landing on Laythe. Although we already have another Mk. Id Mun Hopper, which is the same plane model as the Neptune III, ready for Duna and then Jool, Mission Control decided it was time to "go big or stay home." Besides that, it was also time to upgrade our aerial probe to a more fuel-efficient, supersonic design.


Months of research, testing, and about a million dollars later, we finally made a worthy Laythe tourist transport - as well as a candidate for the Neptune IV




  • Picture of the latest model after the parachute test.



  • A Mk. II variant (the one before the current model) landed in Kerbin's badlands after the orbit and re-entry test.
  • The nose cone and tailfin had to be replaced since they couldn't take the re-entry heat in subsequent tests.



  • The plane has a abortion procedure in place in case something goes horribly wrong during the flight. 
    • As soon as I hit the "ABORT" button mid-flight, the cabin ejected from the fuselage. I then waited until the plane was at a safe altitude and deployed the cabin parachutes.
  • Hopefully, we won't have to use it (at least not until we return to Kerbin).


To sum up the Poseidon's capabilities, it's supposed to be a larger version of the Mun Hopper planes. For further details, please reference the chart below.


Mun Hopper


Crew Capacity



ISRU Capabilities

·         2 x Drill-O-Matic Junior

·         Convert-O-Tron 125

·         2 x Drill-O-Matic

·         Convert-O-Tron 250


·         1 x Small TCS

·         2 x Medium TCS

Power Generation

·         150 Ore Capacity

·         2 x Gigantor Solar Panels

·         1 x RTG


·         150 Ore Capacity

·         4 x Gigantor Solar Panels

·         2 x RTGs

Charge Capacity

·         4,070

·         18,520


·         1 x Communotron DTS-M1

·         1 x HG-5 High Gain Antenna


·         2 x Rapiers

·         1 x NERV

·         10 x Rapiers

·         4 x NERV


·         Crew Report Action Group

·         Double-C Seismic Accelerometer

·         PresMat Barometer

·         GRAVMAX Negative Gravioli Detector

·         2HOT Thermometer

·         Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer

·         Mystery Goo Containment Unit

·         Crew Report Action Group

·         Double-C Seismic Accelerometer

·         PresMat Barometer

·         GRAVMAX Negative Gravioli Detector

·         2HOT Thermometer

·         Atmospheric Fluid Spectro-Variometer



After seeing the performance tests and the numerous improvements made to the design, I can safely say that we found our Neptune IV. Sure, landing may be an issue since the plane is so large, but I hope the rear chutes and numerous aerobrakes can do the job. If that is chosen as our Neptune IV ship, we can not only complete our Laythe tourist contracts, we can do some serious exploration - and replace some of the lost data. 

  • There is debate that I put monopropellant tanks on the plane so that it can dock with space stations. While I'm definitely putting a docking port underneath in case we need a refueling ship and cannot land on our own, I think we're good on monopropellant. After all, we only needed it for pushing the nose up.


Before I end this entry, I would like to thank @fulgur for helping me with the design. What do you all think? Should I go for using the Poseidon Mk. III for Laythe now, or should I go back to the drawing board (and why)? 

Edited by Mars-Bound Hokie
Bill has 2 Ls, not 3

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Over 30 years ago, before Bill's and Val's near-fateful trip to Eeloo, the two of them, Bob, and I were among the first kerbals to explore Dres. That was the last time all four of us got past 1,000 kilometers above Kerbin's surface for the same mission. 

  • Bill and Val
  • Bob and I
  • Bill and I
    • None with all four of us together.


None of us have even left Kerbin's sphere of influence since Bob came back from his rescue mission 19 years ago - which was a while after Bill's and Val's more famously-known Eeloo return - nor did we have any real interest to. We had plenty of rookies on the payroll, so why deny them the chance for experience? 




While Bill was running Laythe simulations for the Poseidon, I "borrowed" one of them for ascent testing - and to show off to my date that I can pilot big planes as well as the little ones. She expected me to set a sound barrier on fire, but for some reason I could barely crack it before slowing down. I thought Bill and Val would team-smack me for that; Val did slap me, but Bill thanked me for warning him about the problem. He redesigned the plane to reduce overall drag so that the initial ascent won't end with going barely supersonic.


Days later, Bill, Val, Bob and I got the news that the four of us - and three other crewmembers - are using the latest Poseidon model for the Neptune IV mission. To top it all off, we'll be transporting three tourists with us that paid for Jool sightseeing (one of them also added a Laythe landing). 

  • Bob was especially excited to recover the lost data
    • But also disappointed that we couldn't bring a materials module

























I gotta admit, I thought we would flop again in the initial ascent. However, Val finally got it to go past 405 m/s before acceleration resumed. 



  • All three tourists and two of the rookies were scared that we were going to catch fire. The one rookie that didn't scream like a baby apparently took the time to read the parts where previous SSTOs look like they're on fire when going that fast in the atmosphere. 
    • Besides, as big a daredevil as I am (or at least I was before Bill and Val got stuck), even I know when to hit the "ABORT" button.



  • Finally, a real atmospheric breach. Nice picture for a postcard, huh.



  • Cockpit shot over Kerbin right before making our exit burn to Minmus for refueling.



  • After we refilled our fuel tanks (but only filled the oxidizers enough for Minmus orbital ascent), we ascended to make a 60-km parking orbit above Minmus. I tell you, you can never go wrong with the Flatlands when it comes to Minmus landing spots.


Right now, the Neptune IV is parked at a 65-Mm orbit above Kerbin with 4,712 meters per second of delta-V left. As of now, we're still stuck on what to do when we reach Jool's sphere of influence? Which periapsis should we have before making our Pol burn? Should we go for a direct Laythe approach? What?

  • Yes, it's Pol - one of our tourists paid for Pol.

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Although it is possible for the Neptune IV to park in an elliptical orbit around Jool before refueling at a smaller moon, the current plan is to make a refueling stop at Ike before heading straight for Laythe. Why do that, you ask? Well, we need an engineer (specifically, me) to speed up the refueling process for our supersonic aerial probe. Once everything is all gassed up, we can go to Laythe after our Ike stop. Call us lazy if you must, but at least we can speed things up with our Laythe exploration efforts.


Speaking of which, Mission Control has decided to upgrade from exploration to colonization. The guys at the VAB have been working on a 19-person surface outpost that could look straight up at the sky while generating some science points. They made sure to have extra support at the corners for increased stability. 



  • The Laythe outpost prototype with the protective fairing split apart.
  • Its capabilities include, but are not limited to:
    • ~ 60G Relays
    • All science with lab
    • ~ 8230 Electric Charge
      • 4 x Gigantor Panels
      • 2 x RTG
    • 19-person capacity
      • PPD-12 Viewing Module looking upward
    • Entrance ladders
    • Surrounding lights


Any ideas on where we should put our first Laythe outpost? Besides that, we have a second Laythe car in orbit and cannot decide where to land it. Should we try one of the poles, or one of the other islands? 

  • No, I'd rather not put it at the same island that Johnfrid Kerman landed on. It already has a car on standby.


We're still working on assembling Odin Station in orbit above Laythe. It's a slow process, but at least it will be a sure one - just like Hades Station above Eeloo. After that, we'll need to send an SSTO that could go up and down Laythe's surface while docking with the station; just like any moon lander, only the conventional design won't work there. If our engineers at the SPH keep up the efforts, we can truly call Laythe a New Kerbin. 

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A couple of years ago, I was supposed to die.


In case you're new to this thread - and haven't read the earlier entries yet - the Neptune II capsule I was supposed to arrive home at blew high up in Kerbin's atmosphere. Fortunately, I was inside another spacecraft with the Vall Girls at the time. While it didn't turn into Kerbi Kerbi Lit Club in the pod, it was more like a reality dating show. The competition for my heart was fierce among the girls, but I guess that's what spending 15 years with each other will do to you. I even had to break up more fights than I cared to remember to count (but Mission Control logged), but good thing none of them sustained serious injuries.

  • As far as I know, no fights broke out in the pod that the Neptune III crew is in right now.


In the end, I proposed to Olivia. Naturally, being the only man she saw face-to-face for over a decade, she said 'yes.' Below is a picture of the two of us in front of the Pluto I capsule. Pretty romantic spot at the KSC, huh.



  • I noticed that a solar panel was added to the capsule to power the lights. I hope that they can hold forever.


Back to the mission here. Our pod had run out of fuel, and we had to use almost all the monopropellant to fine-tune our approach periapsis. Before we hit Kerbin's atmosphere, we detached our pretty-much-empty engines and fuel tank and deployed the inflatable heat shield while approaching at over 5 km/s; the weird thing is that it's faster than the velocity Bill and Val sustained after returning from Eeloo 20 years ago



  • I sure hope nothing bad happens during re-entry.


Sure enough, a second after we passed a 70-km altitude, the capsule itself caught fire even though we were spinning while pointing at retrograde (with our heat shield taking the heat (pun intended)). While the heat shield was close to giving in, the fuel tanks made some theatrical explosions behind us; good thing that Ralo got this picture while we were all too dizzy and scared for our lives.




After a few minutes, we were finally in an elliptical orbit above Kerbin. While we were still on fire, we knew that we would somehow end up back on Kerbin's surface on the first try - either in one piece or in ashes.




After a few minutes of flying through the sky, we managed to get a negative periapsis and a sub-70 km apoapsis. It was beautiful to splash down to this view right here.







Once again, I'm glad the Vall Girls took the time to pick me up and let me in. If they hadn't, Mission Control would still be looking for my ashes in the ocean by now. Guess I'd better prepare for the press conferences later, and everything associated with the "First Small Step" missions. I'm also honored to be part of the "Till CATO Do Us Part" Club, which involves married couples with both members in the KSP. If we hurry, we can build an SSTO to intercept the Neptune IV on standby in high Kerbin orbit and Olivia and I can meet the original kerbalnaut couple, Bill and Val Kerman.


I'm also excited for the Laythe colonization program. I heard that we made a docking-capable "Laythe Ascent Plane" that's primarily designed to go up and down the surface so that users can rendezvous with a space station in orbit. While it looks very similar to the Poseidon plane prototypes (which is the same model as the Neptune IV), the SPH engineers say that at least it's a design that should work.

  • Same case for the new Laythe ore transport. I don't know why we would even need one, but Mission Control said that it would save time and increase convenience when we leave the conventional ore transport out of Laythe's SOI.
    • Hopefully, the ore tank at full capacity doesn't affect the flight performance too much.



  • S.S. Flyboyz, a prototype of the Laythe Ascent Plane.
    • This new plane now rivals the Super Trainer-class rockets as a tourist transport.
  • A prototype is currently 35,000 km above Kerbin's surface, ready to fly to Duna and Ike for a tourist contract.
    • It may not have the thrust necessary for Duna, but there's already a lander (and an ore transport) on standby.
    • This may also be the case for other planets/moons where the TWR for the NERVs alone is insufficient.

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At long last, after 9 years, 166 days, 5 hours and 57 minutes, the Neptune III has returned to Kerbin. Though its crew is expected to hit Kerbin's sphere of influence in about 20 days from now, the original spaceplane used for the mission made it back safe and sound. Some dents and burns were found upon recovery, but at least the scientific data was unharmed.



  • You can see Kerbin between the tailfin on the left and the TCS. 
  • This plane only needed 1891 m/s for a circularization node 170 km above the surface, while it had 2801 m/s of delta-V left if the NERVs were used. Perfect.



  • The Neptune III in orbit above Kerbin. After that, the Mission Control will remotely pilot the plane to land at the KSC.



  • The Neptune III during Kerbin re-entry. I'm SO glad that it entered at the usual orbital speed instead of an immense hyperbolic-orbit escape velocity. Otherwise, we'd get the Neptune II fiasco all over again.



  • The plane is not too far away from the space center. 



  • Gene said that we could have landed anywhere within 20 kilometers of the KSC, but the pilot who was remotely controlling the plane decided to go for the runway landing.



    • Taken 40 minutes ago.


To be honest, Lodock and Enmal didn't really need to change ships since their original spacecraft came back without any major issues. That would have made the perfect newspaper photograph, but I'm sure the media will be just as satisfied when they return in the pod capsule with the other guys. Despite this, we got:

  • 4,348.2 Science Points
  • :funds:199,304 funds from recovered funds.
    • The weird thing is that the plane's model costs :funds:100,428 at the SPH.


In the meantime, we've been digging deep into our funds to accommodate for the new Poseidon SSTOs; specifically, the docking-capable variants. We've been launching all kinds of new ships, including (but not limited to).

  • Mass ore transports
    • Both interplanetary and "Lite"
      • Lite means smaller ascent boosters; intended for Mun and Minmus use.
    • Intended to help refuel the Poseidon-class SSTOs (and other spacecraft) when landing to refuel is not possible.
  • 35-person surface bases
    • Can flag down landing spots.
      • Which reminds me, I'm thinking about sending a kerbal to each "relevant" celestial body to plant flags good landing spots for our ore transports, high-occupancy landers, and SSTOs
    • Also can accommodate/promote kerbalnauts that need to rest.
  • Expansion modules
    • Used for Enterprise and Hera-class space stations
    • Has an ore tank and a converter
    • Specifically designed to make it easier for large SSTOs to dock to the station.
  • A self-mining lander for Vall.
    • The Poseidon SSTO has a crappy TWR on that moon (when fully loaded), so sending people up and down shouldn't be a problem.
  • A docking-capable Gilly lander
    • No way am I authorizing a very large vessel to land on Gilly's bouncy surface. NO WAY.


In the meantime, the Neptune IV has arrived at Duna - along with the docking-capable Poseidon - along with the fleet of accommodating spacecraft. A lander will take two tourists who paid for a Duna surface landing, and then return them to their respective planes after the lander is refueled. Then, while the Neptune IV and the small Mun Hopper fly to Jool, the tourist transport will fly back so that they can get ready for an Eve fly-by. It may extend our intended Neptune IV mission time, but at least we can get that good cash while moving our space program into a new era.




The S.S. Raven is also making its journey back home from Jool, first taking a "braking stop" at Duna to refuel. For the Super Trainer-class ship, it was too risky to send 19 people directly into Kerbin re-entry from Jool. By the time it gets to Duna, the regular and the mass ore transports will be fully loaded and ready for action - at least for the Raven to refuel on Ike's surface. After that, the Raven will establish a LKO parking orbit and then send two of its tourists to a Mk. VII interplanetary travel pod for Eeloo.

  • Or at least that was the plan before the docking-capable Poseidon (we need to get a better name for it) was successfully tested. Now some of us are debating on whether to stick with that plan or to use the new plane. Sure, it has an Eeloo TWR of 0.77 when fully loaded, but most of the tanks will be depleted by then. Even if a safe landing is not possible, there would already be a mass ore transport at the ready to refuel as well as a 19-person self-mining lander.
    • We've been getting crap on not using a lot of the stuff we send, so it's time to prove them wrong.


Should we:

  1. Stick with the original plan and use a disposable 7-person pod?
  2. Use the Poseidon SSTO and get a better return-on-investment.

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To make a long story short, everyone was all right. We splashed down on the dark side of Kerbin in the ocean, which sure put Enmal at ease when our heat shield caught fire. Aside from the sweet money we got from completing a tourist contract - and all the media attention (I hate it) - I'm glad we could call Neptune III officially over.


When I heard that the plane made it back okay (and that the data was uncorrupted), I felt kind of stupid that we went to the Pol pod instead of stayed on the plane. In our defense, we had just heard that the Neptune II exploded at the time and we didn't want to risk our own necks in a failed re-entry. Plus, we got to see more kerbal faces after years of seeing only Enmal while cooped in that plane. 


I was pleased when I heard that the Famous Four were part of the Neptune IV, along with a few tourists and other members of the KSP. We've also upgraded the Mun Hopper design for more stable flight and a higher power intake, and we've moved the drills down to guarantee surface contact. The weird thing is that this upgraded design is now taking the same route we did to Jool and back, only it has an engineer and two tourists. I swear, Laythe will end up the most popular vacation spot in the Kerbol system now that it has all the attention.

  • Not that it's a bad thing. After all, we put in a lot of time and money to expand our presence to Laythe.
    • Especially with our new outpost.
  • Besides that, we seem to have made ourselves a docking-capable SSTO that we can use on that moon - among other places. 


Before I get mobbed by more reporters, I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Neptune missions, both in space and on the ground. Most importantly, I would like to thank everyone who believed in us and supported us through it all. As soon as the Neptune IV returns with the tourists, I plan to get us a group picture of everyone who flew to Laythe.

  • Neptune I
    • Ludlong Kerman
    • Nathan Kerman
    • Matster Kerman
  • Neptune II
    • Johnfrid Kerman
      • The Vall Girls were not part of the Neptune II mission, since they never went to Laythe. 
      • His wife, Olivia, is welcome, though.
  • Neptune III
    • Enmal Kerman
    • Lodock Kerman (me)
      • Tourists and other kerbalnauts don't count, since they were in separate, unrelated mission until Neptune II blew up. Even then, they were just "in the neighborhood" when we got the news.
  • Neptune IV (tourists don't count)
    • Jebediah Kerman
    • Bob Kerman
    • Bill Kerman
    • Valentina Kerman
      • Now that I mention it, she'll be the first woman to ever visit, let alone walk on, Laythe.
    • Gralin Kerman
    • Shelus Kerman
    • Tragee Kerman


Before I sign off, I would also like to inform everyone that we're about to build a "Neptune Memorial" with the remains of whatever came back home from Laythe - and yes, that includes the MJ controller that survived re-entry from the Neptune II. Feel free to donate to the Neptune Memorial fund, or share your thoughts on the Neptune missions.



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After our super-expensive fleet arrived at Duna, Mission Control landed our new 35-person outpost near the S.S. Remembrance landing spot. While the two large SSTOs were out in orbit, the Mun Hopper with the two Jool tourists refueled there first. In the meantime, our new mass ore transport landed on Ike and prepared for its first fueling run.


The docking module then connected itself with the U.S.S. Enterprise-D so that it will be easier for larger craft such as the S.S. Flyboyz (a Poseidon-class docking variant). It will also be less of a pain to store and convert ore on board the station; before, we had to shut off the ore transport's tanks one-by-one before using the transport's Convert-O-Tron 125.



  • The 34-year-old U.S.S Enterprise-D, in orbit 170 km above Duna
    • The expansion module has been docked with the station for months.
  • Convert-O-Tron 250, baby.
    • I just realized that they forgot the TCS systems. This shouldn't be an issue, since most docking-capable spacecraft these days carry their own.
      • Like the Poseidon SSTO.
  • The DAV (Duna Ascent Vehicle) is on standby orbit, awaiting refueling.


After the expansion was complete, the S.S. Flyboyz docked with the station and got Kelney Kerman, who paid for a Duna landing, into the DAV; they also loaded an engineer whose name I forgot. Meanwhile, after the Mun Hopper was done, they took off into a high standby orbit above Duna. When that was over, the Neptune IV landed near the new Kyle Base for refueling. 



  • Nice vacation spot, huh.
  • We filled the liquid fuel tanks up completely, and made enough oxidizer for the rapiers to get the plane airborne
    • Hard to say "airborne" on Ike, when there is no air.


We then ended up 10 Mm above Duna before the DAV docked with us; Mitzer had also paid for a trip to Duna's surface (as well as Laythe's). From that high, the DAV landed on Duna and began refueling itself. Some time later, the DAV was ready to go and it rendezvoused with the U.S.S. Enterprise-D for Kelney and that other engineer to get back to the Flyboyz; the DAV also needed to refill its monopropellant tanks for docking with the Neptune IV. Once Mitzer was on board, Jeb, who was remotely piloting the DAV, realized that its tanks were low and needed refilling before it could dock with anything else.


While the Flyboyz was refueling itself for the trip to Kerbin - before doing a fly-by of Eve - the new mass ore transport had finished filling its tanks up. It then rendezvoused with the Neptune IV and used almost all its fuel to fill up the plane's liquid fuel tanks; the rest of the ore was used to first refill the lander's monopropellant tanks (and load the Neptune IV's up to 52.15% capacity) before giving the Neptune IV some oxidizer for the rapiers. When that was done, our plane now has:

  • 5,046 m/s of delta-V on NERVs alone.
  • 43 minutes, 22.8 seconds of burn time.



  • SO glad we had a docking port underneath the plane. Bill put it there specifically for refueling purposes, but it's also helped when designing the docking-capable variant.


We now have way more than enough for a straight shot to Jool. Honestly, if only we did that on Kerbin with the new mass ore transports, we could have done a straight shot to Jool from there, too - but we also had a contract to land on Ike. 


There are some major changes happening back on Kerbin as well. For some reason, our MJ target selectors aren't working properly - especially on our landing guidance systems. We ordered a new car to fly to the Mun and flag a landing spot with a good terrain and ore concentration so that future spacecraft can just "land near target." Sure, some spaceplanes will need to launch retrograde, but that shouldn't be a problem unless it needs to make a rendezvous with something in munar orbit.* On Minmus, Mission Control decided to use an old base as a second landing spot in case the flatlands don't work. 

* The Poseidon spacecraft has a Mun TWR of less than 1 when fully loaded, so landing's probably a no-go. No matter; there are standby landers and ore transports for that.


As for the Eeloo tourist run debate, the plan was changed. Instead of using the Mk. VII travel pod, we will use the docking-capable Poseidon because it can hold up to 20 people while the pod has 7; we now need to carry more than 7 people to Eeloo and back, since the plan to fly to Eeloo from Jool was aborted for another tourist run. By the time the new Poseidon gets to Eeloo, it should have the new mass ore transport (and an old high-occupancy lander) ready for action. 


We also got a picture of the Neptune Memorial (so far).


    • Neptune I capsule on a display stand.
    • Neptune II's remains on a small display stand.
    • Neptune III, all tanks drained and solar panels extended.
      • Although we should have removed the ore tanks in case someone tries to use the ISRU unit to steal it.

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I'm Lisa Kerman, a rookie scientist in the Kerbal Space Program. I'm currently at Level One, and I've only been in LKO and to the surface of the Mun. 



  • I was in that plane when an engineer (I forgot his name) came here to flag down a landing spot for the Mun. Gene said that tagging along would be a good way to get some experience under my belt.


Yesterday, our tracking station got word that our new aerial probe made it to Laythe. Unfortunately, it didn't have enough fuel for a safe landing. Even when we tried to glide it, it just couldn't make it to the nearest island.


  • Zoomed-in satellite picture of the probe, taken a second before impact.



  • What remains of the aerial probe, landed in the ocean.
  • If the Laythans had long-distance ships, I bet they will be very intrigued by this debris.


For some reason, Wernher foresaw that the probe would fail; but he thought it would be from a drill defect, since the probe was built before they were discovered. He then launched a modified variant to Minmus and had it refueled before plotting a maneuver node to Jool in high-Kerbin orbit. However, as soon as what he predicted happened, he immediately assigned two engineers and myself to a Mun Hopper so that we could follow the probe as it refueled on Ike before flying to Jool. If in the event that one of the engineers needs to stay in the probe's cockpit to speed up refueling, they can just meet up with the Neptune IV and relax in the high-capacity crew cabin on the way back.

  • Now that I say that, it would make an interesting Neptune V mission; a solo flight in an SSTO.
    • Not that it's set in stone
  • Bet Johnfrid would have loved that, then we probably would have (most of) the data that was lost.


Back in the Jool system, Vall is close to getting its new high-occupancy lander and mass ore transport while Laythe is about to get its first permanent surface base. Since Bop and Pol will have new flying bases (which can double as high-occupancy landers), all we need is a mass ore transport for one or both moons and Jool would be ready for the Poseidon Era (except for Tylo, but that's another story). 

  • We're also sending a Laythe Ascent Vehicle to Jool.
  • We've been putting off the construction of Odin Station for a while. If we weren't so tight on money right now (thanks to our new most popular SSTO), we'd resume and then turn Laythe into a New Kerbin. 

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Two days ago, Mission Control received confirmation that Laythe had received its first permanent surface outpost.



  • Eriler Outpost.
    • Named after an engineer who died in orbit of Minmus.
  • Geographic Coordinates
    • 10* 13’ 44” S
    • 166* 57’ 37” E


Since the map target selector wasn't working, Mission Control had to input the coordinates into the landing autopilot manually. Our safest bet was one of the larger islands, and what better spot than between the Neptune II and III landing spots. Bill then suggested that the rocket delivery craft be modified to save delta-V for the delivery phase, so we added solid rocket boosters for the initial ascent.



We're now sending another base to Laythe, but we don't expect it to arrive here for a very long time. Besides the fact that we already have a base ready, we need to:

  • Record some scientific data.
    • A lot of it Mystery Goo data, which was lost when the Neptune II capsule was destroyed.
  • Fix a car whose wheel got damaged upon landing
  • Flag down landing spots
  • Reach out to the Native Laythans.
  • (POSSIBLY) pick up whoever's flying to Laythe with the new aerial probe.


Kerbin is also sending a Laythe Ascent Vehicle with the new base. I wrote to Mission Control asking that they send a mobile base, but Mortimer rejected my proposal on the grounds that "the risk was too great, given the cost and the setback in our landing guidance systems." While I was furious, Bob said that we needed to flag down the landing spots first and make sure the landing systems were accurate on Laythe before sending non-amphibious vehicles to individual islands.


About two more years until we get to Laythe, and then we're ready to begin Kerbin's fourth crewed exploration of Laythe. 

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By Laythe Ascent Vehicle, you mean a Posideon SSTO, right?

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14 hours ago, fulgur said:

By Laythe Ascent Vehicle, you mean a Posideon SSTO, right?

Yes; specifically, the docking-capable variant.

  • And the one that doesn't come with a cabin ejection mechanism.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we made it.



  • Bill (left) and Bob (right) after landing on one of the northern islands. 
    • Bill reset the drag chutes while Bob cleaned up the goo container for collecting data.
  • After our scientists collected the data from the shores, I deployed the drills and began refueling the plane. It didn't matter how high or low the surface concentration was, since we got the big drills here.
    • I don't know if this data was collected before. We definitely know that all atmospheric GCMS and most goo data was destroyed when the Neptune II blew up, so we're working extra hard to keep it safe.


Speaking of the Lost Data, I seemed to recall that Johnfrid Kerman obtained some data above Tylo before he encountered Laythe. Since a Tylo fly-by happened with us as well, we weren't going to miss out on recovering some of that information.



  • Gralin Kerman over Tylo, restoring the goo container.



  • Cockpit shot of Tylo (middle of right window).


Aside from having the first women to step foot on Laythe's surface - or enter Laythe orbit, for that matter - the Neptune IV also got applause for the first tourist run to that planet. The guys at Mission Control agreed that any tourist contracts involving more than two people and landing on Laythe's surface will be handled with Poseidon SSTOs; smaller missions can be accomplished just as well with a Mun Hopper. 


Just like with the Mun Hopper carrying Maubin and Obly Kerman, the Neptune IV needed refueling as soon as it entered Jool orbit. While the Mun Hopper made an elliptical orbit and made a Hohmann transfer to Bop, Mission Control dispatched its Vall mass ore transport and docked with us so we can make more fuel. That way, we would have plenty of fuel to spare after we circularize our Laythe orbit. After all, we don't want to end up like the aerial probe that failed earlier. After we refueled, we made our Hohmann transfer to Laythe and established a polar parking orbit before making our de-orbit burn.



  • Me outside the cockpit as the plane passed above Laythe's north pole.



  • The plane flying through Laythe's atmosphere at ~20 km altitude  It took me forever to regain control, let alone turn around.
  • It was a challenge to find a good landing spot in this light. I didn't want to land on some "slippery slope" - or worse, in the water. Good thing I used Kerbnet to point out whether I'm over dry land or the ocean.


On the subject of the aerial probe, I heard that one of the engineers from the refueling crew is riding along with the new one that's coming here. It may extend our mission by four years, but history has taught us that it's better to wait and keep your kerbalnauts in a larger, more capable craft. Though this engineer (whose name I forgot) is not coming home in that thing, she's flying to Jool all by herself from Ike while her two teammates return to Kerbin in a Mun Hopper. She will also refuel on Bop before heading over to Laythe. Since the Neptune IV is not as good at landing in small spots as the aerial probe, she will either:

  • Land at our position
  • Wait for us to rendezvous with her in orbit.


Now that I say that in detail, that actually sounds like a great Neptune V mission. This engineer (whose name I really should write down) could also flag down other neat landing spots to put bases - or even land more tourists coming here. Too bad her plane won't be part of the Neptune Memorial.


Outside of the Neptune missions, we've had a couple of oopsies trying to accommodate for the new Poseidon planes; a mass ore transport crash-landed on Ike, and a high-occupancy lander was destroyed after landing on Vall. The lander may not be a big deal, since we already have a three-person lander on standby, but we sent a replacement mass ore transport to Ike. We also have three more Poseidon planes in space right now:

  • An unmanned docking-capable variant for Laythe
    • In case we haven't, we should also send a mass ore transport to Bop.
  • An exploration crew to Dres.
    • There's already a mass ore transport there, and the plane has a TWR of over 1 on NERVs alone when loaded
  • A tourist run to Eeloo.
    • There's a high-occupancy lander on standby.
    • A mass ore transport should arrive years before the plane does, so we should be good.


We're going to have a lot of fun on Laythe. Anything in particular you readers want us to do?

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My name is Anrey Kerman, a Level-Four engineer in the Kerbal Space Program. Before I enlisted in the kerbalnaut program, I worked in Integrated Integrals. Yes, we were known for only providing the mobile labs used in space stations, mobile bases, and Super Trainer-class ships, but that was an outdated rumor. About ten years ago, the company decided to try its hand in the airplane manufacturing industry; I was part of the design team. We have had many failures during testing, not to mention we were almost in debt from life insurance payments alone, until we successfully flew the S-4 Hamacker.



  • The plane with all its features extended and active at KSC 0-9
  • (Taken Y45D147)


Perhaps you are wondering why I am telling you my job before I got into the space program. Here's the reason: after the test runs were completed with favorable results, my bosses begged Mission Control to let the Hamacker be the Neptune IV. For a while, we thought we would get fame and fortune with our new plane. However, two things happened which led the KSC to cancel its deal with Integrated Integrals.

  1. The Neptune II was destroyed,.
    1. The scientific and space exploration communities demanded that we replace the Lost Data. Though the Hamacker had an atmospheric GCMS device and the Neptune III didn't, the new Mun Hopper variant and the atmospheric probe were fitted with them.
    2. It also didn't have any Mystery Goo canisters in place, and so far it looked like only engineers could use the plane.
      1. They just had to take extra flying lessons first.
    3. Additionally, kerbalnauts were threatening to resign if they were ever sent to Laythe alone.
  2. The KSC got a tourist contract for Laythe after the Neptune III landed.
    1. It needed a way to transport a lot of kerbals up and down Laythe's surface, so the Hamacker wasn't going to do it. 
    2. It was then the Poseidon Era had begun


No Hamackers were used past testing again. I then decided to enlist in the space program, and got accepted. Once my former employers at Integrated Integrals got word that I was in, they contacted me and asked me to try and convince Mission Control to use the Hamacker in its missions. I tried for years, but to no avail...


Until a couple of months ago.


The Neptune IV crew is having fun on its frozen island on Laythe, but the newly-assigned Neptune V crew is not far from leaving Duna orbit. Mission Control finally agreed that the new aerial probe pilot won't fly to Jool without backup, so the rest of the refueling crew will go too. Once they arrive at Jool orbit, they will refuel on Pol as necessary before landing on Laythe - at the same spot. The three of them will leave the probe behind to do its mission unmanned while the crew leaves Laythe in a Mun Hopper; they will return to Kerbin in the same way as the Neptune III boys (minus getting cozy in a pod, but that was unnecessary since their plane didn't explode).


As for the Neptune VI mission, you're looking right at it.



  • The Hamacker is back, baby.


Not only will I be the first woman to fly to Laythe solo, I will be the first to fly solo in an SSTO to Laythe and back. That other lady in the probe doesn't count, since she has backup scheduled to land with her on a different plane and pick her up. I may have bad thrust with the NERV alone, but it also comes with a high delta-V capacity on liquid fuel alone. Unlike the other Neptune SSTOs, I have enough delta-V to land on Dres to refuel before making my jump to Jool. On a separate note, an exploration crew (not connected with the Neptune missions) will also be going to Dres in a Poseidon SSTO. Perhaps they could flag down a nice landing spot for me while they're there. 


I'm just itching to get to Laythe and show off how fast I can go. Four rapier engines on a small craft like this would definitely set some speed records on that moon. I wish Lodock and Enmal were still there with a Mun Hopper, then I could beat them in a race.

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We're now done with the Laythe part of our mission, and preparing for the flight home. Our Jool orbital apoapsis is approximately 277 megameters (277,000 km) above Jool's surface, and we're circularizing our parking orbit there in about 36 Kerbin days. After that, we'll wait until the next transfer window to make our maneuver node back home to Kerbin.



  • We're not going to be alone, since a Mun Hopper with two other tourists and an engineer will also be flying home to Kerbin.
  • The Neptune IV has just left Pol's SOI in this picture, but expected to get a higher apoapsis than the Mun Hopper.
    • There's also the chance that we leave at different times due to our being on opposite ends of our respective orbits with high periods.


Perhaps I should start with the Laythe mission progress. Aside from collecting data (mostly atmospheric GCMS and goo observations) that was lost in the Neptune II explosion, we were also assigned to flag down possible landing sites for surface bases/vehicles. After Val flagged down "Poseidon Island" close to the equator, Jeb waited until early in the evening to fly southwest to another island. Much to the tourists' amazement, it took us only 25 minutes to fly about 870 kilometers over (basically) nothing but water - although a couple of them (and Shelus) swore that they saw a fleet of boats sailing. They had taken pictures, but the "boats" were too blurry; I couldn't tell if they were actually boats or smudges on the lens or window.



  • We had to slow down a bit after realizing that our air intakes were about to blow up from overheating.
  • Looks pretty cool, huh.



  • Approaching our target island.


We almost crashed the plane to pieces with that landing, not to mention we were less than 3 kilometers from the water. Bob then went for a nice swim for a sample of the water.



  • Good thing he had his suit on, or else he would have died from:
    • Freezing
    • Drowning
    • Poisoning (from whatever minerals were in the water)



  • This would make a great postcard shot. Great that we landed on a side facing Jool.


A couple of days later, we got the word from Mission Control that it was time to take the tourists back home. We then filled up all our tanks and took off at a 45-degree orbital inclination before making our burn to Pol to refuel.



  • The Neptune IV leaving Laythe's sphere of influence as it heads for Pol.


On our way to Pol, I remotely controlled the Polar rover and had it drive east to find a nice landing spot for a large plane like ours. We got lucky when it picked a location in the highlands, so we programmed the plane's landing autopilot to land near the rover. Bob then got out and got surface samples and EVA reports before flagging down the spot for future landers.



  • Bob standing near Polar after flagging down the highlands landing spot.
  • The Polar rover is the same design as the Elegail rover on Laythe.
    • Too bad we couldn't see it, but then again the Neptune IV was too large for a precision landing. 
    • Perhaps the ladies coming here later could say hi for us.
      • And fix that one car whose wheel got damaged upon landing.



  • The Neptune IV on Pol, ready for takeoff.



  • Nice view of Pol from the initial ascent orbit.


It's just a matter of time before we make our circularization node and make later make the burn back home to Kerbin. After we land, a couple of tourists will fly to Gilly to finish the rest of their contracts - but we don't need to send any Neptune personnel for it.


I think we recovered more than just Lost Data from Laythe; we also got new data from the other biomes we visited on the planet. Not only that, we also got some data from Pol's highlands after we landed for refueling. Since we have a higher delta-V capacity than the Mun Hopper, it shouldn't be too hard to return to Kerbin with our tourists and data safe and sound - even if we hit the you-know-what.

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After waiting for so long, we have made our exit burn from Jool and on our way to Kerbin. We are expected to leave Jool's SOI in about 60 days, and reach Kerbin in 2 years and 152 days. 




I'm actually a bit jealous that we had to wait an entire high-Jool orbit after Starigh (the tourist engineer) made her exit burn before we did. Besides, I'm starting to get sick of this Poseidon; it's way too large and takes forever to get up to speed. Not only that, it's almost impossible to land anywhere with this thing. If we're taking two tourists or less to Laythe, a Mun Hopper would make sense.

  • If it was a singular tourist, Bill and Val would make a date out of it (with the tourist as a third wheel).


Back on Laythe, we got a couple of new items; a surface outpost and a Laythe Ascent Vehicle. I wish good luck to whoever has to control this monstrosity.


  • I hope we make a smaller LAV soon; one that's easier to land.


Mission Control also said that the Neptune V crew is approaching Jool from its refueling stop at Duna. They will refuel at Pol before making their transfer burns to Laythe, and then land their planes and do whatever it is they need to before taking off in a Mun Hopper. As for Anrey Kerman, the Neptune VI engineer, she's over a year away from her refueling stop on Dres. I don't know what she is going to do there, since the transfer window from Dres to Jool opens in seven years from now.

  • I heard rumors that Namin Kerman, the engineer flying the aerial probe (part of the Neptune V mission), would attempt to fly around Laythe in less than 80 minutes when she landed - but so far, no confirmation.
    • Then again, one of Bill's friends back home said that he saw someone from BigBen - a stopwatch and timer company - in the software wing of Mission Control. Two days after that, Namin logged a mid-flight software update. I wonder why.
      • Same case for Anrey.
  • Anrey's not alone in her Dres flight; an exploration crew is accompanying her in a Poseidon. 


Maybe we could launch a single-launch space station to Laythe that the LAV could dock with. Sure, it may cost more than an individual Odin Station part, but it will save us a lot of time and money in the long run. 

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It's me, Namin Kerman. I'm the engineer flying the new aerial probe for Laythe. I figured I'd wait until I made it to Laythe to transmit my first thread entry, but Mission Control told me that a good portion of the public was demanding to hear from me. I was reluctant at first since I'm a pretty shy kerbal, but Mission Control wanted a transmission now while I still had a relay connection. 

  • I now have a 15% relay strength, and I'll go dark in a few days. Fortunately, I had already made my fine-tuning burn to Jool and expect to arrive in the planet's sphere of influence in about 1.75 years.


Another reason Mission Control told me to make a transmission now is because we lost a crewmember of the Neptune I mission.


(He died in a tourist lander, after his ship's separator failed to work before Kerbin re-entry. All occupants were dead upon discovery; no survivors)

Below is a eulogy written by his mission pilot, Ludlong Kerman. If you have any respects to pay, please do so by replying to this thread.


It feels like only yesterday when we were thrown into the capsule of a modified travel pod. Our mission was to orbit Laythe, take some pictures and gather some science, then return to Kerbin. Inside the pod, Nathan, Matster, and I were like brothers. Though that meant we fought once in a while until Mission Control told us to break it up, that also meant we made up and watched each others' backs. Heck, we were still like brothers after we splashed down on Kerbin. Sure, we had our own lives and families back home, but the three of us always met at every Day 193, snuck into the historical archive hangar, and spent the day in the old Neptune I capsule. It was a bit of a challenge getting used to it when Kerbin's gravity was acting upon us, but Nathan was all for it.

It's a shame that Mission Control got wise and had the capsule guarded when they made the Neptune memorial. Getting past them would have been a challenge he would have enjoyed taking on.

Though Matster and I were excited to see a new moon for ourselves, Nathan was more excited on what new engineering prospects would arise from the Neptune missions that followed us. Back then, I would have laughed in his face if he said that we would be flying planes to Laythe. Boy, am I glad I was wrong. He was disappointed that the Neptune III was empty when it returned, but he understood the need for a contingency plan. Matster threw a fit when the Neptune II data was lost, but Nathan started drawing up contingency plans for keeping Enmal and Lodock alive should the Neptune III end up like its predecessor. I told him that Mission Control would do the "Vall Girls" maneuver, where someone else would pick up the explorers in a more protected craft, and he told me "Where's the fun in that?"

Nathan had big dreams; one of them was to fly back to Laythe in a Mun Hopper after he returned from his tourist run. I told him that we were all staying on Kerbin until the Neptune IV came back, but he said that he was going to hijack one and go without us if he needed to. Chasing him would have made a great challenge for both him and us.



Me (left) and Matster (right) in front of the Neptune I memorial


Nathan's story may be over, but ours certainly isn't. He died doing what he loved; flying through space and taking risks. May we continue to do the same.


We salute you, Nathan Kerman



I didn't know Nathan that well, but Mission Control wanted me to give my own piece. All I can say is that Nathan was someone who loved to take on challenges and was a pioneer for all of kerbalkind. If you want more details about him, I think you'd have better luck talking to his family or his old crewmembers.


While we're on the subject of old Neptune missions, I realized that my own mission plan is somewhat similar to the Neptune II mission. While Johnfrid used a single-use lander and I'm in a plane, I couldn't help but notice that some of the starred instructions are similar to what he did. More specifically, I will be:

  • Entering Laythe alone
  • Using a Laythe car to explore an island
    • In my case, I also have to fix a wheel
  • Get picked up by a ship full of girls while I leave my capsule behind
    • Johnfrid left his in Jool orbit, while I'm leaving my plane to refuel itself on Laythe's surface
    • We also know that the Mun Hopper can survive Kerbin re-entry if it:
      • Refuels on Pol first
      • Circularizes its parking orbit at 150 km before re-entry


I'm actually glad that I will be going dark soon, because Anrey can't stop bragging that she would be the first kerbal to fly to Laythe's surface and back solo and without any pickups. I swear, if I hear one more brag, I'll request that Mission Control swap her with someone from the Dres exploration crew. Besides that, she's expected to enter Dres' SOI in about 331 days, and it will be another 7 years before the transfer window from Dres to Jool opens. Honestly, I think someone else can do the Kerbin-Minmus-Ike-Pol-Laythe route faster than Anrey can do the Kerbin-Minmus-Dres-Jool route. I hope someone does, then she can shut up.


All drama aside, Mission Control has decided to shut down the Odin Station project in favor of a ring station. Sure, it was expensive, but it at least cost less than the sum of the station modules going into a halfway-constructed station. It also has:

  • Crew capacity of 91
  • Can store and convert ore
    • Also has TCS systems
  • 6 standard docking ports
    • Perfect for ascent planes
  • 400G relay coverage
  • Can generate power



  • The U.S.S. Nathan Kerman, 245 km in orbit of Kerbin.
  • Delivery rockets has 4,281 m/s of delta-V
    • We're working on increasing that in case this fails - or, rumor has it, for sending a ring station to Moho.


Imagine that, a ring station above Laythe. I also think it's fitting that it was named after one of the first explorers of that moon.


We salute you, Nathan Kerman

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Well, my trip just got a heck of a lot more boring.


It would be another six years before I leave Dres' sphere of influence for Laythe, and almost another six after that before I hit Jool's sphere of influence. If I do the math right, I should be at my destination several days after the beginning of Y69. Add the time I would most likely spend exploring Laythe and refueling, and then add the transit time from Jool to Kerbin, I should be back by approximately Y74. 

  • That's nearly a total of 20 years for my mission. 
    • And the Neptune III wasn't even half that long.
  • I wonder what I'm going to do while I'm waiting for my maneuver node, and while I'm drifting through interplanetary space. 


At this rate, if Wernher decided to launch a Neptune VII real soon, the crew would already be back home before I even got to Jool - even if they stopped at Ike to refuel. I know I talk a big game and say that I would be the first person to fly solo to Laythe and back; to do what Johnfrid Kerman could not. However, I kind of wish that I get to talk to someone face-to-face during my mission.  

  • I don't know how Johnfrid managed to live cooped in that capsule by himself for so long.
    • And the Vall Girls pickup was just pure luck - luck which saved his life.
  • Gus recommended that I talk to family and friends daily - and give occasional mission status reports to the public - while I'm in the plane. I guess I'll be talking to him first.


On the plus side, by the time I get there, Laythe would already have at least three new surface outposts and a ring station - along with everything else. It's a shame Mission Control decided to shut down the construction of Odin Station, but at least we'll get a station built after decades. Speaking of shame, my condolences go out to Nathan Kerman's wife and kids. It seemed appropriate that Mission Control would name the new ring station after him, since he was one of the first three kerbals to see Laythe with their own eyes. Even though my plane isn't docking-capable, I can at least rendezvous with the station and explore the interior.

  • Actually, now that I say that out loud, I could spend some time in the Defiant by myself. All I have to do is program the lander to rendezvous with the Neptune VI and I can just hop inside.
    • I can also explore Dres' surface, and even ride in an old fuel truck.


While I'm waiting for my node, I can catch up on my pleasure reading - and all the drama going on back in Mission Control. Some of the top stories include, but are not limited to:

  • Mission Control accepting construction contracts involving
    • A surface outpost on Eeloo.
    • A new station around Pol --> and what better than a new ring station.
  • A failed Moho ring station prototype flying around with Eve as a new target.
    • And Mission Control's decided to try again with another model.
  • The Neptune IV landing home in less than a year.
    • Along with the Mun Hopper tagging along with a couple of tourists.
  • The Eeloo tourist plane about to hit its destination in about 1.25 years.
    • After it gets home, the Raven-Remembrance contracts are finally over.
  • The Dirtblood getting upgraded for an expanded planetary exploration mission around Duna


To top that, I heard rumors of a rookie pilot lost in retrograde solar orbit. I don't know how she got there, but we're getting her back.

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It's been forever since I logged on to this thread - or in space, for that matter. Perhaps I should start from the beginning.


The current Mun Hopper model was recently replaced with a more aerodynamic version. More specifically, the ore tanks and TCS was removed from the fuselage and installed in a cargo bay behind the drill compartment, the ore capacity was cut in half, but I don't think it's that big a deal since we only need the tank for refueling - not transport. Since there was extra space near the bottom of the second compartment, the SPH engineers decided to add a Mystery Goo tank so we can collect more data while the plane's flying. It would require an scientist to reset if necessary, but I'm sure that, for the most part, Jeb's crew was able to replicate the Lost Data in the Neptune IV already.



  • Brand-new and improved Mun Hopper
    • Crew Capacity: 3
    • Full Mass: 33.35 metric tons
    • On sale for :funds:114,560 at your local KerbalX plane dealer.
  • Extra reaction wheels for increased spaceflight maneuverability


You're probably wondering "What the heck is that BigBen timer doing?" Apparently, Mission Control has mandated that all spacecraft, both future and active, be updated with this stopwatch application. Sure, I get that it's necessary for rovers and planes that want to go fast, but I think it's a big fat waste of money to install it on everything. I mean, seriously, why would a space station or an interplanetary travel pod (like the Neptune I) need a stopwatch?

  • Matster said that it could be used to time ISRU conversions, but I don't see why the entire vessel would need an extra application when someone's watch can do the job such fine.
  • I think Internal Investigations needs to see if anybody's been getting kickbacks from BigBen's recent sale.


All ranting aside, after the orbital test was a success, Mission Control ran a scenario simulation with the Mun Hopper on Laythe and timed it flying around the planet. It took less than an hour for the computerized plane to make one full circumnavigation. Honestly, I saw this as a way for them to kill time while waiting for maneuver nodes. If the Neptune III can make it to Laythe just fine - and if the Mun Hopper model that brought a tourist to Pol has the delta-V for it - then I saw no reason for this model to fail for real. In an effort to generate more demand for Laythe, Walt Kerman started a campaign daring anyone with a fast plane to go there and fly around in less than 80 minutes.

  • Link to the challenge details below.
    • SPOILER ALERT: he's allowing armed planes to participate


Just when I thought that there couldn't be enough Laythe hype, Wernher proves me wrong. The SPH engineers decided to build a more heat-resistant model, so they removed the crew cabin and cockpit and replaced it with an inline cockpit and a nose fairing. While it would reduce the chances of any crewed modules blowing up from overheating, it brought the crew capacity down to 1. I argued that we already had the Hamacker as a one-man SSTO - and it was pretty fast on its own thanks to its four rapiers, but Gene said that the Mun Hopper had a higher TWR on the NERV alone and has already proven Laythe-capable.

  • He then made me an offer which changed my opinion on the new model; I would fly it to the Mun, refuel, and head back.



  • Laythe Speeder
    • Crew Capacity: 1
    • Full Mass: 32.02 metric tons
    • On sale for :funds:113,240 at your local KerbalX plane dealer.
    • MechJeb autopilot not included


Below are the pictures of my extra-long test run to the Mun.








~67 days and an aerobraking orbit later



  • This is me at 41.3 km altitude



  • Taken 31.5 km altitude
  • Flying over the flag that Bill and Val (and that other girl) planted after their return from Eeloo. 
  • I tried to slow down, but I couldn't. My suborbital trajectory took me right on top of it.



  • I didn't have the fuel to make it back to the KSC (otherwise, why would I be here), so I aimed for the grassy area in the mountains over there.





My take: works like a charm.


After I was brought back to the KSC, Matster told me that they changed the Neptune VI mission plan. More specifically, the plan is to:

  • Make a burn to Duna
  • Refuel on Ike
  • Fly to Jool


I thought that the plan was for Anrey to return to Kerbin to use the new plane, but it would still cut her estimated mission time by about half. Rather than just wait around in Dres orbit, she would go somewhere that has a higher-frequency transfer window to Jool and arrive there years sooner than originally planned. 

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Two hours ago, we received confirmation that the Neptune IV has landed safe and sound somewhere in Kerbin's desert. Except for a few bruises, a broken nose, and a busted lip on a couple of tourists, all the occupants were okay. The injured tourists were reported to have gotten in a fight 30 minutes before the Neptune IV made its insertion burn. We still need to take two of them to Gilly and back before the tourist contract is officially complete, but that is a cakewalk.

  • The contract in question covered FOUR tourists
    • One's travel itinerary was done years ago, since all he wanted was to fly to Duna and back. It was a simple trip with the Dirtblood.
    • Another tourist's was completed after the Neptune IV landed; he was the one who paid for the Laythe landing.
    • The other two still want to land on Gilly before they submit their full payments.
  • The Neptune IV also received another tourist who paid for a trip to Pol on a VIP contract. I knew that underside docking port would come in handy for a non-docking-capable variant.



  • If you look closely above the left wing, you'll see Kerbin.
  • When the plane hit the SOI, Bill noticed that the navigation was still set to Penguin Wannabe Island on Laythe. He then changed it to the KSC back on Kerbin and pointed the plane at it. From this far away, it was hard to tell where Kerbin was unless we pointed straight at it.



  • The Neptune IV making its insertion burn. Seems like a high altitude for that, but they were coming in pretty fast.



  • Still making the insertion burn, and we're starting to see a "sunrise" above Kerbin.


After the plane achieved a successful (inclined) parking orbit, the crew saw that they had ~1,100 m/s of delta-V left. Bill wanted to wait until it was daylight at the KSC AND it was approaching directly underneath their orbital path. However, the tourists and the rookies demanded an immediate landing. Jeb eventually agreed to the immediate landing since he "hated waiting" and we had a Mun Hopper about to reach Kerbin's SOI in a day.



  • Jeb then made a suborbital burn to land in Kerbin's desert. This is the plane passing over Crater Rim.



  • After quite a bit of post-reentry spinning, Jeb regained control of the plane and made a slow landing approach.
  • In hindsight, I'm glad that they picked the desert. When it comes to atmospheric landing, Poseidons are WAY less accurate than smaller planes.
    • We had an abort sequence that involved ejecting the cabin from the rest of the plane and activating the chutes in case something went wrong.



  • Landed at the desert.
    • Bob then disembarked and planted a flag. Sure, there have been three Neptune missions before them, but everyone else ended up on water.
      • Not counting the empty Neptune III, since its occupants came back in another capsule.


Not only did we get a reputation boost from the tourist reviews, but we managed to reclaim the Lost Data. Even better, the Neptune II only had data for one Laythe surface biome (aside from the flying) while the Neptune IV covered multiple. The refueling stop on Pol was also a good opportunity for some more science. Good thing the plane's probe core was okay, otherwise we'd have another "Lost Data" incident like before. 

  • We received 4,257 Science Points upon recovery.




Everybody in the plane was promoted to Level Five after they returned to the KSC, which was still dark when they arrived. Jeb was then seen shaking hands with Ludlong, while Bill and Val were chatting with Johnfrid and Olivia. Bob was trading scientific secrets with Lodock and Enmal; they seemed very interested in his findings. If I had to guess, I'd say it was due to the fact that their mission didn't have any scientists; their mission plan involved having a spare seat in case Johnfrid needed a pickup (and didn't have the Vall Girls). The tourists returned to their bunks while eleven kerbalnauts hopped an open-cockpit rover and drove to the Neptune Memorial - now with the Neptune IV next to the Neptune III.

  • Its tanks were drained dry, and the MJ module was removed as an anti-theft measure.



  • All 12 Neptune kerbalnauts (from I to IV) parked in front of the Neptune Memorial
    • There were supposed to be 13, but Nathan's dead. We decided to leave a seat empty in his memory.
    • Ludlong Kerman (M)
      • Neptune I
      • Mission Pilot
    • (EMPTY - Originally for Nathan Kerman (M))
      • Neptune I
      • On-board engineer
        • DECEASED
    • Matster Kerman (M)
      • Neptune I
      • Scientist
    • Johnfrid Kerman (M)
      • Neptune II
      • Scientist
    • Enmal Kerman (M)
      • Neptune III
      • Engineer
    • Lodock Kerman (M)
      • Neptune III
      • Pilot
    • Jebediah Kerman (M)
      • Pilot
    • Bob Kerman (M)
      • Scientist
    • Gralin Kerman (F)
      • Scientist
    • Tragee Kerman (F)
      • Engineer
    • Shelus Kerman (M)
      • Engineer
    • Valentina Kerman (F)
      • Pilot
    • Bill Kerman (M)
      • Engineer


As for the other Laythe projects, we landed a third outpost on Laythe a few weeks ago. In honor of our fallen kerbalnaut, we named it the Nathan Memorial Outpost. Before he died, he had told me that he wished to operate the Elegail rover from up-close and personal. It seemed fair that we land his base near the rover's location. The Neptune V planes - the Mun Hopper and the new aerial probe - are a few days away from their refueling stop on Pol. When that's done, they will head for Laythe and leave the probe there while the crew comes back home in the Mun Hopper; they will also repair the car whose wheel was damaged after landing. The Neptune VI is en route to Duna from Dres to refuel on Ike. Some may call it counterproductive, but this is a way to save time instead of having to wait 12 years to get to Jool. 


Mission Control currently doesn't have any plans for a Neptune VII ready - or even in the discussion phase, for that matter. In the meantime, any more missions to Laythe will most likely be tourist runs or replacement missions in case something fails. Thanks to our new ring station and outpost construction projects, we're now on a tight budget and don't want to spend any more than we have to.

  • Sure, we have plans for a mission to Duna with a Dirtblood, but they're cheap compared to the 400,000 dollar Poseidons - let alone the 1.4-million-dollar ring stations - not to mention we can use them again.


While we're on the subject of money, we still have a (no-deadline) contract with the World's First Society to:

  • Return to Kerbin from orbit of Tylo
  • Rendezvous two vessels in orbit of Tylo.


In a matter of months (or years, depending on how much money we have to spare), we will launch a docking-capable Poseidon to Tylo for orbital exploration - and to pick up some kerbalnauts that are in a new ring station that's on its way to Pol. If we have enough money, we'll also launch a ring station for Tylo and have the plane rendezvous with that so we can complete our contract. We won't actually land on the surface, but that's another mission.

  • My ultimate idea is a large, mining-capable SSTO that can also deploy a single-stage, closed-cockpit Tylo lander from its cargo bay
    • If we return to Kerbin from a Tylo landing, tourists will demand that we send them to Tylo's surface. Since not all tourists are EVA certified, we should use a closed cockpit instead of an open seat.
      • Plus, one tourist may want to see Tylo while another wants to see Vall. Once I return the lander, all I need to do is refuel the plane (and, by extension, the lander) on Bop/Pol and we're all set. If the lander can get up and down Tylo without refueling in the middle, it can definitely do Vall.
    • I don't care if I need to make a refueling stop on Minmus/Ike before I can get to Jool. It can refuel itself, so it's worth the extra stops.
  • I want the SSTO because it's cost-efficient, we get (nearly) full return-on-investment, and our space program can qualify for the Jool-5 challenge.


So far, we haven't come up with a good lander idea - let alone the SSTO to carry it. For now, we'll just stick with what we got for the orbital reconnaissance mission.


I am so glad that our efforts to colonize Laythe have come this far, and that we're continuing to push our boundaries. The only two celestial bodies in our solar system that kerbalkind hasn't set foot on yet (aside from the sun and Jool, obviously) are Tylo and Eve. Mission Control unanimously voted to save Eve for last, since it is considered the "Endgame" of any space program in the solar system. We just need to work together to push the limits of science and technology even further. 


Wernher Von Kerman

Year 57, Day 384




EDIT: We also accepted a contract to plant a flag on Vall. All I need to do is direct one of the Neptune V planes to there, plant the flag, and we're done.

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6 minutes ago, Mars-Bound Hokie said:

My ultimate idea is a large, mining-capable SSTO that can also deploy a single-stage, closed-cockpit Tylo lander from its cargo bay

Well, you know where to go if you need any help with any of that... (also I'm bored)

Looks exciting

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